North! Or Be Eaten: my review
September 15, 2009
It was with some ambivalence that I picked up Andrew Peterson’s North! Or Be Eaten book, because I wasn’t sure I’d be able to be objective. You see, I really like his music, and I really wanted to like this new book in his Wingfeather Saga series.
Happily, concerns about objectivity quickly melted away when I dove into the book, and found myself really liking it, not just because I wanted to like it, but because this is a great story. In fact, towards the end of the book, I’m afraid I was a bit rude to my family as I growled, “Do not interrupt me! I’ve got to find out what happens…”
Some things I appreciated about this book:
I liked the hero’s journey in this story. In the first book, On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness, the stage was set for the Wingfeather children and the story of the Fangs’ oppressive rule of Skree. It felt a little like the same kind of adventure over and over; namely, battles with Fangs. In this book, there is movement, quest, progress. Different experiences. Some new characters, and some satisfying depth given to the ones we met in the first book. We get to see much more of Skree and Aerwiar and have a fuller sense of what is happening with its people and their tyrannical oppressors. As in all good stories, the “hero’s journey” leads us, with Janner, into exciting adventures and lessons learned along the way.
I liked the numerous chuckle-out-loud moments and crazy imaginative creatures that seem to me would be especially appealing to young male readers (although my ten-year-old daughter seems to get a kick out of them as well.) (She and I have been fighting over this book since it arrived.)
And speaking of children, North! Or Be Eaten places a high value on children. The hope of the land rests on these three children, and stories are discovered that describe the unique magical capabilities of children in Anniera before Gnag the Nameless took over. I like children, and am all about not underestimating them, so I liked this.
All in all, this book contains some intense themes of courage and loyalty while somehow staying playful and whimsical. This second installment of the Wingfeather Saga gives us more of what we liked in the first book, but with improved storytelling and a much more “epic” feel. A satisfying fantasy tale!